Mayor Ed Lee is calling for an independent investigation into the death of a woman found Tuesday at San Francisco General Hospital more than two weeks after she was reported missing from her hospital bed, a mayor’s office spokeswoman said.
Lee reached out to the family of 57-year-old Lynne Spalding today to express his condolences and to let them know that he wants answers and will pass those answers along to the family as soon as he could, mayor’s office spokeswoman Christine Falvey said.
Spalding had been admitted to the hospital on Sept. 19 for an infection and had been improving but disappeared two days later, according to hospital officials.
Her family was concerned that she was unwell and frail and may have been confused because of the medication she was taking. Her family started a massive search effort, and despite searches of the hospital she was not found.
It wasn’t until Tuesday during a routine quarterly check of certain stairwells by an engineering staff member that Spalding was finally located, according to the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office, which provides security and law enforcement at the hospital.
The stairwell had not been checked during previous searches of the hospital. It was locked from the outside and had an alarm on the door, according to the sheriff’s office.
San Francisco police and the sheriff’s office are both conducting investigations, including reviewing hospital alarm and search procedures.
However, Lee’s call today was for a separate investigation and Falvey said that the Department of Public Health was reaching out to independent agencies to review hospital facilities and patient safety.
David Perry, a spokesman for the family, said the family was “moved and glad” by Lee reaching out and appreciative of his efforts to conduct an independent investigation.
While the medical examiner’s office has confirmed that the body found in the hospital stairwell was Spalding, her official cause of death has not yet been determined, according to Perry. He said the family has been told by people close to the investigation that foul play is not suspected.
Scott Morris, Bay City News